The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 20:5 NIV
Imagine digging a well – the one who is willing to dig, draws out the good purposes. There is so much stuff on the surface. You can find anyone to tell you what you want to hear. There’s so much that’s just one click away, one channel away, one thought away. There are plenty of people who have no idea what they are talking about but will be more than happy to give you a “piece of their mind.”
But God’s purposes and good thinking and wise counsel are not on the surface. They are like water in a deep well. It takes some intentionality and digging to find it. We are starting a new series called rethinking your life, during which we will let God renew our minds and learn to think like Jesus. Our thinking is so valuable to who we are and who we want to become.
The greatest gift God gave you as a human being is the ability to know God through that brain, through your mind because you’re made in his image. In fact, you may not know this, but you are always on God’s mind.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV)
Why I Need To Think About What I Think About
You’re not always thinking about God, but God is always thinking about you and He has given you the thought capacity to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. What a wonderful word, that tomorrow when you wake up, you are still with the Lord.
This week we are going to start with some baseline truths to build on. These are reasons why we need to think about what we think about. We need to bring our thoughts under control. We need to get them in the right direction.
1. Any change I want to make in my life must start in my mind
Your life is determined by what you think and you choose what you think about. One of the reasons we’re doing this series is because we need to exercise that choice more often. Many problems in life come because you’re allowing other people to put thoughts in your mind instead of choosing them yourself. You let other people, media, radio, television, books, magazines, Netflix documentaries, enemies, and Satan suggest thoughts.
When you don’t choose your thoughts, you’re going to end up with a lot of wrong, hurtful, self-defeating thoughts.
We need to be intentional about what gets our attention.
Nobody’s forcing you to think thoughts that cause you to be afraid or insecure. You can take control of your thoughts. Why are you letting untrustworthy or ungodly people determine what you think? Change the channel, do something different. Think again.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV
In life you’re going to either be conformed or you’re going to be transformed. You’re going to be conformed, meaning you’re like everybody else because you listened to everyone else – cookie cutter thinking. Or are you going to be transformed? You’re going to be different because God renewed your mind, by letting God change you by rethinking your life. Since your thoughts control your life, any change that you want to make for good or bad, starts in your mind. Change starts in your brain, not in your behavior. Change starts inside you, not outside you. The way you think determines so much about you.
Did you know your thinking determines the way you feel? A lot of times we try to change our feelings, but that doesn’t work. Have you noticed your feelings are quite resistant to your will? You don’t want to feel a certain way and you try to force yourself to not feel that way, but you still do. For example, you can’t command a kid who’s crying to stop crying, but you can get him to think about something else. Feelings many, many times are uncontrollable, but you can control your thoughts and your thoughts determine your feelings.
When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. Jonah 2:7 TLB
God’s spirit can bring it to mind when you’ve lost all hope. We’ve got to get back upstream to make changes downstream. Changing your actions or feelings doesn’t work. You can still be hurt, mad, upset, or envious. You’ve got to rethink.
2. Every behavior is based on a belief
All behavior is based on a belief. Anytime you see anybody doing anything good or bad, right or wrong, it’s because they have a belief beneath that. If you’re acting scared, it is because you’re believing scary thoughts at that moment. If you’re acting resentful, it’s because you’re believing that you’ve been devalued and so you’re going to defend yourself. If you’re acting prideful, it may be because you’re secretly believing you’re not good enough, so you’re trying to compensate by being boastful, by being proud.
For example, let’s say you’re disagreeing with your spouse about something and you’re actually having an okay disagreement. You’re being logical and you’re being an adult and you’re kind of listening to both sides. Then all of a sudden something in the disagreement triggers and emotions are engaged, walls are being build up, and the emotional intensity went to ten in like two seconds. You’re upset or you’re nervous or you’re fearful or you’re sweating or your voice goes up or tears come down your cheeks. What in the world’s going on here?
If you’ve ever been in a situation like that, you need to ask this question, what am I believing right now?
Because something just triggered an unspoken belief. You may believe they’re going to leave you. You may believe you haven’t been heard. Losing control. You may believe that your idea isn’t being given validation and that you’re not being treated with respect. You’re believing something that all of the sudden triggered an emotional response. Do you even know what that is?
A lot of times in conflict, you don’t even know why you’re upset. But you grow by examining what’s going on in your mind. The truth is when you actually do that, you discover the real reason why you did not tell your spouse something, or did not communicate with your boss.
Or that you may be making assumptions about what they meant by what they said. But what you believed affected your behavior. That’s why the Bible says this:
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. Proverbs 14:15 NIV)
You have to think about what you’re thinking about because that’s what’s affecting your emotions and your actions.
3. Anytime I sin, at that moment I’m believing a lie
Satan is the tempter and the father of lies. The only way your nature is going to let you sin is to not believe the truth. When you are sinning or being tempted to sin, you are being told a lie and you need to stop and ask, what’s the lie going on here? When Satan tempts you, he always uses the exact same process. One of the steps is deception, when he gets you to doubt what God has said is the truth and to start believing that what you feel is the truth.
If you want to stop a habitual sin in your life, you’ve got to get to the root of it, to the lie that you’re believing that you’ll be happier if you do what God says don’t do. If you understand this, it’s going to stop giving sin and bad habits such control in your life.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 NIV
Have you ever seen someone continue to keep on doing a self-defeating behavior even though it’s killing them? Why? Because at that moment they’re believing a lie.
Some people think they are doing what’s right. But what they are doing will really kill them. Proverbs 14:12 ICB
One of the common lies that we often believe is this, that you are tempted because something out there has tempted you. We tend to think that temptation is something external, that if something wasn’t there you wouldn’t be tempted.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NIV
Just like a magnet need something to pull to, you wouldn’t sin if there wasn’t pull in your heart. Don’t blame the fact that there’s metal right there.You address the magnet in your mind.
4. An unseen war is going on in and for my mind
Sometimes we forget that the devil is a devil. He’s trying to devour you. He’s trying to devour your relationships, your marriage, your influence, and your witness. Don’t invite him in.
God has given you everything you need to overcome the enemy in this war. You can use the weapons of The Holy Spirit and the word of God to win this war in your mind.
Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6 NLT
This is why you need Jesus in your life because without the Holy Spirit inside you, without God’s spirit of love inside you, you’re powerless. There’s no way you can control the rogue mind that you have. Your sinful nature controls your mind, it’s going to lead to all the wrong places.
Jesus: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV)
There is no freedom without truth, but there is no truth without God’s word. God is the source of all truth and so you can’t separate freedom from truth. If you do, you lose the war in and for your mind.
5. My goal is to learn to think like Jesus
Jesus is the model for healthy thinking, for happy thinking, for holy thinking, for wholistic thinking. The good news is that Christ understands all the mental problems that you have. He understands all of the fears, all of the deceptions, all of the difficulties, all of the barriers, all the blind spots that we have, because He’s been there. He came to earth and lived here.
Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. 1 Peter 4:1-2 MSG
It’s not like he’s saying think like Jesus who never had a problem, never was stressed, never was discouraged, never had conflict, never had people against Him, and never had enemies. No, he said since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him.
6. Rethinking my life to match how Jesus thinks is called repentance
The word repent means to change your mind. Repent doesn’t mean to stop doing bad stuff, which is the fruit of repentance. It’s the most positive change in the world turning from darkness to light, turning from hopeless to hopeful. To change your mind about death. To change your mind about the purpose of life. To change your mind about love
Repentance is a lifestyle where I more and more begin to think like God thinks and less and less think like the world thinks. Repentance is when all of a sudden I used to think God didn’t love me, but I realized he does.
So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day]. Acts 3:19 AMP
Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Faith That Makes a Comeback.” Did you take any action steps to resharpen your spiritual edge?
To kickoff “Rethinking Your Life” we looked at six reasons we need to think about what we think about.
1) Any change I want to make in my life must start in my mind.
2) Every behavior is based on a belief.
3) Anytime I sin, at that moment I’m believing a lie.
4) An unseen war is going on in and for my mind.
5) My goal is to learn to think like Jesus.
6) Rethinking my life to match how Jesus thinks is called repentance.
Read Romans 12:1-2 and Acts 3:15-20
Discussion & Application
- Start with a little fun. Describe a time when you built up something in your mind to be difficult – that turned out to be easy!
- Which of the six truths stood out to you the most?
- What does Romans 12:2 say about how we come to know the will of God? What are the effects of God’s word on your mind?
- According to James 1:13-15 and Proverbs 14:12 what is all too often the typical progression of events leading to death when we’re believing a lie?
- How can we escape that progression?
- Rethinking our lives to match how Jesus thinks is called repentance, which comes from the Greek word Metanoia meaning “to change your mind.” What are some of the results and benefits of repenting? (If you can’t think of any, look through the verses on your outline to see all the benefits.)
Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. Pray for one another in your group and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and guide you in ways that need to change your mind.
Father, we want to rethink our lives in order to be closer to you. Help us to win the battle for our minds – to come to know the truth, to repent, and to allow the truth to set us free. We ask that you renew, refresh, and revive our relationship with you. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Be thinking about what your SERVE Day project could be.
Serve Day July 18th – learn more at RockBrook.org/Serve